Winton Winter Survey and the closure of public toilets

13 December 2016

Councillor Simon Bull organised a Winton Winter Survey and members of the local South East Dorset Green Party delivered leaflets to 500 households during the last week. Returning half an hour later they were able to collect completed surveys and talk to some residents.

The members who took part found this a worthwhile exercise. Said one member “Yesterday felt really positive and I think this type of campaigning, where we ask people what concerns them, really works to engage, and gives us info”.

The one thing that residents were concerned about more than any other was the possible closure of public toilets recently proposed by the Council.

In response to a question he raised at Council, a press release led to a report in the Bournemouth Echo on December 12th, where reporter Katie Clark wrote the following article under the title:

13 out of 18 public toilets could close to cut costs (although council can't say how much it would save)

Public toilets in Bournemouth are at risk of closure - with more than half under threat of being shut for good.

Bournemouth Council are consulting on the latest cost-cutting move, with a final decision due in February.

The issue, raised by Green Party member Cllr Simon Bull at this week's full council meeting, has been criticised as "short-sighted", given the town's tourist status.

At least 13 out of the 18 public conveniences in the borough - excluding seafront toilets - could close, with others transferred to different owners.

Many of them include cliff top loos at East Cliff and West Cliff, with toilets at Fisherman's Walk Gardens and Boscombe Gardens also at risk.

The council have refused to state how much the closures could save saying they are 'not able to project the total savings until a decision has been made'.

In his question to members of Bournemouth council, Cllr Bull said he was "very concerned" by the proposals.

Asking for reassurance that full consideration would be given to the needs of residents and workers, he told the Daily Echo: "The council has the task of budgeting reduced funds from the government and we are forced to make savings.

"The question is are public conveniences needed? I strongly believe that it is important for residents to have their say and urge them to contact their local councillors to make their feelings known before it is too late."

He added: "There may be alternatives to closures. It is short sighted to close so many. Removing facilities does not enhance our status as a tourist town."

He was told by cabinet member, Cllr Michael Filer that a decision has yet to be made finalising the potential closure.

The proposals are still under review, with each site subject to consultation with ward members and other stakeholders.

Cllr Filer, whose portfolio is cleansing and waste, said: "A full report on this subject is going to the overview and scrutiny panel on February 2 where it will be discussed in detail.

"Over all the years I have held the portfolio, no toilets have been closed without the agreement of the ward councillors."

Larry Austin, service director for environment, said: “No decision has been made.
“After consultation with elected members this proposal is under review with each site subject to consultation with ward members and other stakeholders over the next few months.”

The decision comes as all service directors at Bournemouth have been tasked with making savings in their department.

Earlier this year, Borough of Poole closed four public toilets in the town centre, replacing them with a community toilet scheme making use of facilities at shops and businesses.

The move was expected to save the council £98,000 a year.

People were asked to make use of existing loos in Sainsbury's, Poole Museum and The Lighthouse.

Read the article in full here.

The issue was followed up a couple of days later on Radio Solent.